Picture: istock
Picture: istock

It does not get much more ironic than this. Deo Juvente, the horse controversially not invited for 2016’s Vodacom Durban July, is top of the log just released by Gold Circle for the big race on July 1.

Gold Circle, which runs KwaZulu-Natal racing, said the log "serves as a clear indication as to who would be in the field if the race was run tomorrow".

Trained by Geoff Wooduff, Deo Juvente was beaten favourite in the Jubilee Handicap at Turffontein prior to the 2016 July, but the horse went lame and is now back to full health. To satisfy the Gold Circle selection panel, Woodruff organised for two vets to oversee a public gallop to prove the gelding was back to full soundness.

This did not satisfy the panel who declined to invite owner Markus Jooste’s horse.

Last Saturday, Deo Juvente, under an inspired ride by Callan Murray, notched the biggest win of his career when shading Legal Eagle and Nother Russia in the R4m Premier’s Champions Challenge at Turffontein.

Now with a merit-rating of 115, Deo Juvente tops the July log ahead of Al Sahem (winner of the SA Derby), Heavenly Blue (beaten favourite in the Derby), Master Sabina (stablemate of Deo Juvente) and Orchid Island.

Last Sunday, Marinaresco, second in the 2016 July but disappointing during the Cape season, bounced back to his best when getting a photo-finish verdict over Victorious Jay in the Independent On Saturday Drill Hall Stakes. This has resulted in trainer Candice Bass-Robinson’s four-year-old being promoted to the 6-1 favourite for the July with Al Sahem (8-1), Elusive Silva (9-1) and Black Arthur (13-1) next in the betting.

Anthony Delpech, who has won the July four times, has indicated he will partner the Justin Snaith inmate, Black Arthur. Although unplaced in the Drill Hall Stakes, the four-year-old finished close up and 7-2 for a place (first four) could be an attractive ante-post wager at this early stage.

Craig Zackey will be dreaming of his first July win as his likely mount, Saratoga Dancer, ran a cracker in the Drill Hall and the price of Duncan Howell’s five-year-old is now 14-1.

Gold Circle said that trainer Michael Azzie had entered his Argentinian-bred four-year-old Hat Puntano for the July.

"We have not considered him at this stage as he is yet to win beyond 1,600m and has not been seen in action since July 2016," said Gold Circle racing executive Raf Sheik.

The Vaal hosts an eight-race programme on Thursday and Azzie’s Flying Russian could finally leave the maiden ranks by winning the third race. Piere Strydom will ride the son of Russian Sage for the third time.

A possible banker for punters is Ormond Ferraris’ stayer, Save The Rhino, who takes on 10 rivals in the sixth race over 2,000m. Stunned is running consistently and may pose the main threat.

Any market support for Brightnumbersix in the final leg of the Pick 6 could be significant as the three-year-old won well on her debut here in December. This is a competitive sprint in which chances can also be given to Miss Turbo, Zappy Choice and Sheema.

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